Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Please State Your Full Name” — Conrad’s review
This week we’re told, The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a five-letter word. There are five long themers:
[17a: Joyous exultation]: OHHAPPYDAY
[25a: Response to “I’m on the other line”]: CALLMEBACK
[50a: Zoom meeting greeting]: HIEVERYONE
[59a: Hospital patient’s wear]: IDBRACELET
I spotted two-letter “State” abbreviations at the beginning of each themer: OHHAPPYDAY, CALLMEBACK, etc. I had noted 1d (FIO) as odd fill while completing the grid (unusual fill is sometimes meta-related), and saw that the last two letters completed the “Full Name” of OHIO, leaving an “F”: OH(F)IO. I chased down three more themers: DELAW(F)ARE, HAWAI(T)I, and IDAHO(Y). Then I got stuck on the CA (California) in CALLMEBACK. The (apparent) mechanism would require the letters LIFORNIA (plus one more) to appear in the grid… and they don’t.
My partial meta solve spelled “F.FTY” (and there are FIFTY states), so I was sure I had the right idea, but was probably missing a nuance in the mechanism. Rescanning the themers I spotted other state abbreviations: DERIGUEUR contains RI, and ME appears in CALLMEBACK. ME + IAIN would complete the theme: M(I)AINE. So… why ME and not CA, and why didn’t RI matter?
The full “click” arrived when I saw that each themer contains a two letter word/acronym that was also a state abbreviation: OH HAPPY DAY, CALL ME BACK, etc. The leftover letters spell FIFTY, our meta solution:
- OH(F)IO HAPPY DAY
- CALL M(I)AINE BACK
- DELAW(F)ARE RIGUEUR
- HAWAI(T)I EVERYONE
- IDAHO(Y) BRACELET
I suspect I’m not the only muggle who solved 80% of the meta before working out the final kink: please feel free to state how you did in the comments. We’ll end on a Spiritual High (State Of Independence) Pt. II, by the Moodswings featuring Chrissie Hynde, covering Jon & Vangelis (and also famously covered by Donna Summer).